Daniel Switzer, Broadway Performer.
[Interview Date: November 28, 2020]
Mean Girls, Newsies Tour, Frozen Tour and more.
Describe your initial thoughts, feelings and challenges when your tour abruptly went on layoff on March 12, 2020. What were the weeks following like for you?
At the beginning of the shut-down, it was a new and bizarre feeling. A pandemic is not something I have ever dealt with, so there was so much unknown. In the first few weeks, I really felt like I had a positive outlook. We were being told that our break from the stage should only last a few weeks, so I thought of it, initially, as a little time off and some rest.
Did you initially anticipate that Broadway and other theatre productions, including your tour, would be closed for this long?
It didn’t seem possible that this kind of long-term theatre shut-down could have been possible at the time. I think, in the back of my mind, I was trying to prepare myself that this could be a very long stint, but I was mostly trying to stay more hopeful than that.
What have you been doing over the past several months to stay sane? What has helped you the most?
When it comes to mental health, therapy has been the most helpful for me during this time. I got back into therapy a few months into the pandemic. I’ve learned in therapy that, in hard times, past traumatic events can be triggered because of other harsh circumstances. Therapy also helped me focus and get involved with my passions in new ways; including, reconnecting my love for teaching. I created and lead an online virtual camp for a children’s theatre company called Artstarts. Oh, and my own practice of yoga has been so beneficial to my mental stability!
What has been the hardest thing about the past months since the shutdown for you?
The hardest parts have been not being able to do all of the things that I usually do. I consider myself an extremely social person. I like meeting new people and making friends. I also like taking dance and yoga classes. The lack of face-to-face socializing, in general, has been hard.
What positives, if any, do you think have come out of this time of quarantine?
I would say that, with all the time we have been gifted, I have been able to find new things that I love. Like reading more, writing more, and building a permanent home/space for myself. All of these were really things I wanted to do more, and now I get to do them!
What is your biggest concern right now, regarding the arts industry?
My biggest concern has been the safety and well-being of our community. I know that, financially, it has taken a toll, and the complete shift from our normal day-to-day has impacted our mental health. I’ve found myself questioning the legitimacy of this career, and it’s painful to see our industry become temporarily obsolete.
How do you think your job will be different when you return?
When we return to theatre, I hope we can all find a little more gratitude and perspective for how awesome it is to do what we do! That this time away will help us all realize how great it is to work in the arts.
Have you made any big decisions during this time? How has the pandemic changed your priorities, if at all?
Yes, I moved to Portland, OR. Instead of being in a long-distance relationship, away from my partner, we decided we should be together during this time. Also, the things I loved about NYC were temporarily displaced, so I came to a city where I could better thrive!
What do you miss the most about Frozen and live theatre, in general?
I miss the people and the community. We, the cast and crew, came together every night, as a team, to entertain thousands; and that is something I loved being a part of! Being with my cast-mates who understand the work and effort of a big show like Frozen, working closely with the crew who take great pride in putting on our show, and seeing the smiles of the audience members. There is nothing like it.
What’s your favorite theatre memory?
Some of my favorite memories are probably my childhood memories. Growing up in St. Louis, MO, I was first introduced to theatre at the MUNY. It was a special place that allowed me to dream big and let me think outside of a “normal” life. I saw my first show when I was 5 years old. It was Peter Pan, and my mom tells me that after the show I told her, “Someday, I’m going to be on that stage!”
What is the thing you’re most excited to do when live theatre is back?
I am most excited to bask and live in the feeling of a final bow! To take all of that in for each show! Just, seeing my cast-mates' smiles, our crew supporting us backstage, hearing the audience’s applause, and squeezing the hand of the person next to me as we take the final bow!
What advice do you have for young Broadway hopefuls during this time?
My advice would be, if you’re like me and you know that this is what you want to do, then you also know that there is nothing else in the world you want to do as much as performing! Don’t let this time in history persuade you away from the stage. One of the most fascinating traits of being an artist is finding the grace to stay hopeful in your passion and desires, even in the hardest times. Stay patient, this field can be difficult, but it’s worth it!
Favorite Broadway Musical: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Favorite Broadway Play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Favorite role you’ve played: Race in Newsies
Dream role: Emcee in Cabaret
Favorite Movie Musical: Chicago
Movie that you think should be a musical: Drop Dead Gorgeous
Favorite Broadway Icon: Cynthia Erivo
Favorite city on tour: Portland, OR
Favorite Theatre Quote: “The world is your Oyster.”
Favorite Dressing Room Item: A Chakra Banner
Trunk item you can’t live without: A Foam Roller